Greetings and Blessings in the name of the most high, no matter how you see or revere him or her, my name is Matthew De Vere Andre Murrell, also known as Kupakwashe, but you can call me Kupa for short. I am young playwright, director, actor and the founder and Creative Director of Yardie Boy Theatre.
For my first entry, I would like to show respect of two men today as I write this blog (May 11th). R.I.P to the honorable Robert Nesta Marley, who passed on this day in 1981. I read a few days ago that the kind of music a child grows up listening to, determines his taste, my mother against her father’s wishes was an avid reggae music fan, and so am I. Listening to Bob’s words and music has influenced me in my art and ideologies. R.I.P. to the Father of Reggae and a powerful Caribbean cultural icon. R.I.P. to I’Akobi Tacuma Hembadoon Maloney, a young prodigy of the Rastafarian faith whose life was cut short and whose spirit cries out for justice. I have never met you, but I feel as if I’ve known you all my life. RASTAFARI LIVE!
Just my first week in Fresh Milk was a humbling experience. Living on the south coast of Hastings, trying to write without hearing ZRs, a stray gunshot, loud music and whatever noises that fumigate the air makes it a task to concentrate. But being in the clean air of St. George, seeing the abundance of foliage, hearing birds, cows and the lyrics of Bob in my ear was the prescription I needed.
My first day, I had no idea how to start, many ideas came into my head about this play. I just didn’t know how and where to start. I wanted to write a piece, yes about I’Akobi, his life to his unfortunate crossing, but I want a deeper message. My message to people is that this situation is NOT just a Rasta ting! It is human ting! We have seen how the system claimed many of our people, from Emmitt Till, Trayvon Martin, Walter Rodney, I’Akobi Maloney and many more. So hence my stance ‘I AM I’AKOBI’. After posting the above picture on Facebook, I received so many great responses. Herbal Specialist Everton ‘Heru’ Holligan, did two videos of his kids with the same stance, Margurita Maloney, mother of I’Akobi Maloney said “GIVE THANKS for ALL of your support my SUN Matthew Kupakwashe Murrell, ‘BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY’!!! May WE ‘eventually’ get the legislative reform WE seek” and “You know, there are times when I ‘feel sooo alone’ and THEN……THIS…GIVE THANKS for ALL of my comrades who ‘CARE’!!!”. The picture garnered over 12 shares from Barbados and across the region to the USA.
So far my research comes the literature of Marcus Garvey, ‘The Philosophies and Opinions of Marcus Garvey’, ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’ by Walter Rodney, ‘Rastarian Theology: From Garvey to Marley’ and the DVD ‘The I’Akobi Maloney Conspiracies: A Mother’s Perspective’. I’ve already meet Maggie, I’Akobi’s mum, and I plan to meet her again, along with Mandela, his younger brother. My great friend and “twin sister” Ayesha NuRa, already has her foot on board to help me with anything I need in my research and development in this piece. Ayesha knew I’Akobi personally and they were the best of friends.
So far in the script, the piece has taken many different shapes and forms as I am still trying to formulate the script. I’ve tinkered with the mode of ‘totality theatre’. The most commonly known play I can think of right now which emulates that idea is ‘For Coloured Girls’. I’ve done it before in other plays like ‘JAHovah Witnesses’, ‘De Angry Black Boy Tantrums’ & ‘Demons in Me’. I’m incorporating poetry, as I’Akobi was interested in poetry, as well as the music of Bob Marley.
I chose this topic because it spoke to me. I’Akobi Maloney and I are both born the same year, 6 months apart. Two weeks after his crossing, I remembered being stopped and harassed by a policeman for no reason. At the time I had an afro which I wore wild and drove a car many wouldn’t be proud seeing. But like I’Akobi, I was an intelligent young man scrutinized not for what is in my head but what is on top of my head. I do believe in the work of ICAR, The Justice Committee and the Maloney Family to fight for justice. This could happen to anyone’s son and anyone’s daughter. Many Barbadians, I noticed, didn’t join in actively or speak out about it, because of the feeling that it was a Rastafarian affair with the police. Then so, what about Trayvon Martin and Emmitt Till? Was that only an African American thing? What about Brenda Belle? Is that only a female thing? Anne Frank? Only a Jewish thing? It is ALLAWE!!!!
“…until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned. That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; that until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; that until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained..”
Emperor Haile Selassie I